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When it comes to financial responsibility, Florida does differentiate between the amount of required coverage for private passenger vehicles and that required for coverage for commercial vehicles―and does so in a big way.
Ways to Establish Financial Responsibility
This state offers several ways to establish financial responsibility. You might be able to:
- Purchase a commercial insurance policy from a carrier licensed to sell insurance in Florida.
- Post a surety bond with a state-licensed company and obtain a Financial Responsibility Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility.
- Deposit cash or securities with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) and obtain a Financial Responsibility Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility.
- Provide evidence of possessing a net encumbered capital and obtain a Self Insurance Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility.
NOTE: Each one of these options might or might not be available to you. Please contact the DHSMV to find out what your specific situation allows.
Consider the following as you’re trying to decide whether you need a commercial insurance policy:
- How many and what kind of vehicle(s) you need to insure
- How the vehicle(s) is being used
- Who drives the vehicle(s)
- Who owns the vehicle(s)
Keep in mind that the distinction between needing private insurance and needing commercial insurance can get tricky, even once you’re clear on your vehicle’s purpose.
For example, if you drive a business-owned vehicle, you probably need commercial insurance. As a sole proprietor who uses a particular vehicle for business-related matters, however, you might be able to get away with a personal auto insurance policy.
At the same time, if you’re a sole proprietor who, say, uses one vehicle that you own to offer taxicab services, you must purchase insurance that exceeds the minimum requirements for personal passenger vehicles:
Let’s dig a little deeper. You might need to purchase commercial insurance if any of the following apply to you:
- Your business equipment cannot be removed from the vehicle(s).
- You or your business picks up and delivers goods and/or people.
- You have multiple vehicles used by craftsmen or skilled workers (aka artisan use).
- The coverage limits on a personal auto policy are not high enough.
- You need to protect your employees when they use your company vehicle(s) or their own vehicles on company time.
If you need help determining whether you need commercial insurance, the DHSMV recommends contacting the Customer Service Center.
Be prepared to discuss the following with potential commercial insurance providers:
- Who owns the vehicle(s)
- Weight of the vehicle(s)
- Usage of the vehicle(s)
- Liability limits requirements
In most instances, the amount of coverage the state requires for commercial vehicles exceeds the amount of liability coverage for private passenger vehicles, and in general is based on the size of the vehicle, how you use the vehicle, and whether the vehicle crosses state lines.
The DHSMV recommends contacting both the Customer Service Center and an insurance company that specializes in commercial coverage to determine the amount of insurance you’re required to have and the amount that best suits your needs.
Once you’ve determined you need commercial insurance, it’s time to start shopping around for a policy that meets your budget needs and satisfies the requirements for your particular vehicle(s).
Look for knowledgeable insurance carriers that specialize in commercial coverage and can provide you with information about the state’s requirements for your vehicle(s) and which additional coverage options might best suit your needs.
Under most circumstances, the DHSMV will receive information about any insurance policy you purchase; however, it’s best to keep proof of coverage with you at all times in case you’re involved in an accident or a law enforcement officer pulls you over.
Depending on the method you use to establish financial responsibility (see “Ways to Establish Financial Responsibility,” above), you might be able to use any of the following as proof of coverage:
- A Certificate of Insurance from your insurance company.
- A Financial Responsibility Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility.
- A Self Insurance Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility.
Keep in mind that the DHSMV will advise you on the best way to show proof of financial responsibility depending on the method you’re able to use.
Penalties for no proof of insurance―or establishing no financial responsibility―can be stiff and might include:
- Suspended driving privileges, registration, and license plates.
- Hefty reinstatement fees.
The severity of your penalties and amount of reinstatement fees might depend on the kind of commercial vehicle you’re driving and whether you or an employer owns the vehicle. It’s always best to contact the DHSMV Customer Service Center to get the details specific to your situation.
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